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Erik Burgess, Published August 17 2012

Tom Hanks makes early morning stop at West Fargo diner

WEST FARGO – Tammy Hagensen makes few exceptions for rolling out of bed at the crack of dawn.

Meeting Tom Hanks is one of them.

The two-time Oscar winner made a stop through the area around 4 a.m. Friday looking for some biscuits and gravy to chow down on, Hagensen said.

“He just wanted down home, home-style cooking,” Tammy said.

Hagensen, who runs TNT’s Diner at 405 Main Ave. W. with her husband, Tim, opened the doors early for the private event, bringing along their 8-year-old son to partake in the meeting.

It all started late Thursday evening. The jet company that Hanks was using often refers their pilots to TNT’s Diner, Tammy said, so the company called her up again Thursday and asked if they would be willing to open their doors early for a special guest, whose name they couldn’t give out right away.

“I originally kind of turned ’em down,” Tammy said. “Then I called ’em back, and I said, ‘You’ve got my curiosity. I know you can’t tell me who’s coming in. We’ll do it.’ ”

When Hanks, along with his wife, Rita Wilson, and two sons walked through the door, Tammy said she was stunned, but she immediately offered the movie star a “Welcome to North Dakota” hug.

Hanks and his family ate breakfast and left the area around 6 a.m., Tammy said, but not before snapping a couple of cellphone pictures and signing a couple of T-shirts.

“Customers didn’t believe us today, so we had to show ’em the picture,” Tammy said.

Hanks has won numerous awards, including back-to-back Oscars in the mid-90s for lead acting roles in “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump.” He also voiced Woody, the toy cowboy, in Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story” trilogy.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518